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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Folks,

I found this informationonline at the green spark plug company, I thought it would be useful to know.
I discovered that when you flood an NGK plug they are never the same again, I had an issue before by using a grade a little too cold for my 81 bonneville that took ages to solve, turns out that year needed a hotter plug than all previous years.

"We get asked the same question regularly - which is the better manufacturer - Champion or NGK, generally the problem lies with modern plugs and this is our thoughts.
If the engine hasn't started straight away you will probably have wet the spark plugs up. Once the spark plugs have been coated on the inside there is a possibility that an additive which has already been added by the manufacturer to unleaded petrol causes the spark to track down to earth. Even with wire brushing and trying to burn it off it will carry on doing so. We have been told cleaning with oven cleaner does help but we have not tried this.

A good tip when replacing new plugs is to have your engine already started and warm first on the old plugs, then put your new plugs in. The highest resistance with the spark is when the plug is new and unused.

There is no technical report on this but selling plugs for 30 years these are our conclusions.

Also Donald Mckinsey has written about it in the United States and here are his thoughts on the problem
Donald Mckinsey

Are you having problems finding a spark plug that lasts very long in your old engines?

First let's define the problem with the new spark plugs. When the automobiles became controlled by computer, the spark plugs did not have to have the bottom of the insulator glazed. The cars have fuel injection and the computer will not put enough gasoline into the cylinder to flood it. It injects fuel into the cylinder and says I will not put any more fuel into the engine until it fires. Then it fires the cylinder with 4O,OOO volts, if something happens to this computer control and too much fuel is injected into the cylinder, and the engine floods, this vehicle will not run right until you have taken the old plugs out and replaced them with a new set. What has happened is the trash gasoline the Federal Government has forced on us has contaminated the spark plugs because they are not glazed on the bottom. However when was the last time you flooded a computer controlled vehicle? More than likely, never.

Now these old engines do not have computer control and if your carburetor is running rich or you flood the engine, the same thing happens. The bottom of the insulator where it fires the engine becomes contaminated and becomes junk. The point coil or magneto ignition does not have 4O,OOO volts to fire the spark plug.

The solution to this problem is to find the spark plugs that were manufactured prior to the time that they quit glazing the bottom of the insulator. (Around 1975-77..) In those engines that used 1/2" pipe thread spark plugs or 7/8 - 18 thread spark plugs, the best deal is to try to buy spark plugs that come apart so the insulator can be taken out and cleaned with WD-4O, kerosene, Diesel fuel, or other things that will not remove the glaze on the bottom of the insulator. In any case, do not sand blast or glass bead them. This removes the glaze and you have a short life plug just as though you had purchased one of the newly manufactured spark plugs.

Those plugs that do not come apart, but are glazed on the bottom of the insulator can be put in a can of the same material mentioned above and set over night. Then brush the carbon and oil out of them with an acid brush or other small brush. After cleaning them, blow them off to remove the excess cleaning liquid and you are ready to run again.

I cannot emphasize enough that spark plugs should not be sandblasted or glass beaded. Also that to get any length of life in the old engines, they must have an insulator that was glazed on the bottom.

DONALD MCKINSEY, P.O.BOX 94, WILKINSON, IN 46186."
 

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Hi
T140
Pre 78/79 splayed head Amal mk1 carbs - Champion N3
Post 78/9 parallel head Amal mk2 carbs or Bing Carbs - Champion N5
8 Valve engines - Champion G63
Harris Bonneville with Alloy barrel Amal mk1.5 carbs - Champion N3

IDK the NGK equivalents, but someone will.

Regards
Peg.
 

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I have yet to have a Champion N3C plug fail over the last 40 years. The ones i change every few years still look good with no erosion. Not tried any other make as these do the job very well. My Spitfire uses N4C.
 

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i gave up on champion plugs years ago in my T120. they fouled and fouled, even the old N3G gold palladium plugs. wouldn't ever come back. go figure.

i put in NGK B8ES plugs, and the problem stopped. i don't know whether they come back after fouling, because they have never fouled, no matter what i do to them.

IMHO, there are no best plugs, even for a standard tuning configuration. this is OEM heresy, but i think you should just test what works in your motor and use those. different motors seem to like different brands, and different heat ranges. be very careful with heat ranges, and only go to a hotter plug if you are certain what you are doing and are aware of the risks. i generally have only needed to go colder than recommended.

my T120s use NGK B8ES and B9ES. i have some B10ES i was looking at in a high performance bike but i broke it before i could put them in. i use B7ES plugs in a commando, and they work well, but frankly so do the B8s.

they tell me champion plugs are the best to use in OEM applications. maybe, but like rambo, i've found something that works so i'm sticking to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Peg,,

That is correct, my bike had old champion N5's but I swapped them out for the standard NGK that is used on all the older Triumphs as per suggestions on here, I got about 50 miles out of them and then they would not fire in the bike. I then put in the old N5's, started and run fine, checked my almost new NGK's, looked good, sparked outside but would not allow starting. Of course you can't believe your new plugs can be at fault so I changed coils, and other bits. It was a post on this site that had the same issues, 50 miles out of a plug, turned out the bike needed the hotter plug as Peg shows.
The fact that the NGK's would not allow even firing but had been fine for numerous starts and about 50 miles riding (with some misfiring towards end of the run) show the above information seems reasonable. A plug that would work when brand new should still function after 50 miles, (it was the same effect over two sets of the standard NGK) the fuel additive coating makes sense.
 

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I have 2 sets of N5 plugs. I check them every 100 miles or so and they generally look/work fine in my 79 T140, well since I restored and tuned the carbs they do. If they do look a little dirty (e.g. after a number of short journeys where they have not reached 'self-clean' temperature), I swap them with the spares I keep under my seat, chuck the dirty plugs in my ultrasonic cleaner for 30 mins at high temp and intensity (which is surprisingly effective) and then they become the spares. With this method I have covered well over 500 trouble-free miles but saying that out loud is tempting fate...
 

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Hi Folks,

Once the spark plugs have been coated on the inside there is a possibility that an additive which has already been added by the manufacturer to unleaded petrol causes the spark to track down to earth. Even with wire brushing and trying to burn it off it will carry on doing so.
I wonder if this is a U.S. fuel situation??

I'm hoping Australian fuel isn't as far gone in quality just yet!

R R
 

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Come on now,if your bike plugs get gas fouled you have a carburetion or ignition issue, fix it...From actual experience I can tell you that 35 years ago I flooded automotive engines and they would not restart until the plugs were changed.....
And there was a a flood of imitation NGK sparkplugs .
http://www.ngk-sparkplugs.jp/english/techinfo/fake/index.html
 

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Hi
T140
Pre 78/79 splayed head Amal mk1 carbs - Champion N3
Post 78/9 parallel head Amal mk2 carbs or Bing Carbs - Champion N5
8 Valve engines - Champion G63
Harris Bonneville with Alloy barrel Amal mk1.5 carbs - Champion N3

IDK the NGK equivalents, but someone will.

Regards
Peg.
Is it worth putting plugs in a Harris?
 

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Hi All,
I use Champion plugs, simply because that was original equipment and I have not yet been let down by them.
I have used them a lot so I have gained a little knowledge of their numbering and heat ranges.
If I were to start having problems, I would have no hesitation in dropping them in favour of NGK plugs, then I would learn a little bit about NGK markings and heat ranges.

I am not sure if one is that much better than the other, I think it is maybe personal experience and preference.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Just a little bit of Wicki, if it is of any interest.

Champion spark plugs founded by the Stranrahan brothers in incorporating Albert Champion’s designs in Boston, Massachusetts 1905.

Albert Champion left 3 years later and started the Champion Ignition Company, he was sued for the ‘Champion’ name, so had to rename to AC (Albert Champions initials)—AC (now AC Delco) is owned by General motors.

The original Champion spark plug company is now owned by Federal Mogul- So it is still a USA owned and USA made product.

NGK ( Nippon (Japan) Gaishi (insulator) Kaisha (company)) was founded in 1936 in Nagoya Japan.
It’s headquarters is still there.
European built spark plugs are made in France, USA built spark plugs are made in Irvine, California.

Regards
Peg
 

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Hi Alex,

my bike had old champion N5's but I swapped them out for the standard NGK that is used on all the older Triumphs
To be clear, there never was "the standard NGK that is used on all the older Triumphs". All '79-on and pre-'78 (the gap isn't a mistake here) Triumphs used different plug grades, and more than one grade was fitted to different pre-'78 ranges. So, in the same way Champion N5 were fitted to all '79-on 2-valves (twin- and single-carb.) and Champion N3 or N4 were fitted to all pre-'78 Triumphs, there are different NGK (and Nippon Denso, Bosch, etc.) grades:-

Champion N5 = NGK B6ES
N4 = B7ES
N3 = B8ES

Come on now,if your bike plugs get gas fouled you have a carburetion or ignition issue, fix it.
While I wouldn't disagree, perhaps one "fix" is to use one of the unobtanium-costalotium thin centre-electrode plugs ... e.g. for NGK, V-suffix (instead of S) has a "gold-palladium" centre electrode, VX = platinum, IX = iridium.

According to the T160 Owner's Handbook, the recommended N3's didn't need to be changed for 10,000 miles. In the days when you could still get proper leaded 5-star in GB, N3's in my T160 would last a little past 3,000 miles ... before one or other'd start misfiring. :bluduh Blasting 'em in a local garage's plug cleaner would sort 'em for a while but always shorter and shorter periods. At one stage, I was replacing plugs at the 3,000-mile services to avoid misfiring problems.

Bemoaning the problem to a local bike shop's Service Manager and triple owner, he recommended the B8EV's, then widely-available for Yam RD and similar stinkwheels. They banished the T160's sparking problems certainly up to the Handbook's 10K miles change recommendation ... and (because I've always checked pretty-much every fill-up) consistently gave 2~3 mpg more. :thumb Aiui, certainly V- and VX-suffix plugs have a wider heat range than the equivalent S-suffix, V/VX are more likely to burn off plug-fouling combustion deposits at lower temperatures, before the engine's fully-warm.

However, as @Truckedup also posted, beware from whom you buy; since the stinkwheels fashion passed and mainstream dealers stopped stocking things special spark plugs, I've always bought from Ken Inwood/Hersham Racing.

you can't believe your new plugs can be at fault
A plug that would work when brand new should still function after 50 miles,
Mmmm ... :) One of the nice things I've found about the NGK V-/VX-suffix plugs is they'll usually still work a long time after they last worked. But the operative word is "usually". So I always have some brand-new but cheap plugs for when a bike won't start, if only to confirm/eliminate the old plugs as a problem; because they're cheap, sometimes there are duds out of the box, sometimes they work for a bit (50 miles?) and then expire.

(it was the same effect over two sets of the standard NGK) the fuel additive coating makes sense.
Cheap spark plugs/many parts, I tend towards one of Ian Fleming's lines for Goldfinger - "... Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. [Only] The third time it's enemy action." :)

Hth.

Regards,
 

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Is it worth putting plugs in a Harris?
Hi TT,
I have one Harris engined (Meriden framed) bike, it was a nightmare re-engineering the engine to something that worked properly, every finish, tolerance and quality of metal was poor.

However the one thing it had in it’s favour were the Gilardoni alloy Nikasil plated barrels. These are fantastic items, they run cool, run tight tolerances on their Assos pistons. No oil consumption, change the rings at 80,000 miles for your next 80,000 miles riding.
Whenever these have come up on E-Bay, it is usually me that has bought them. They are getting very rare now, I have 1 spare set of barrels left and a set of new pistons.

Regards
Peg.
 

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Is it worth putting plugs in a Harris?
Hi TT,
I have one Harris engined (Meriden framed) bike, it was a nightmare re-engineering the engine to something that worked properly, every finish, tolerance and quality of metal was poor.

However the one thing it had in it’s favour were the Gilardoni alloy Nikasil plated barrels. These are fantastic items, they run cool, run tight tolerances on their Assos pistons. No oil consumption, change the rings at 80,000 miles for your next 80,000 miles riding.
Whenever these have come up on E-Bay, it is usually me that has bought them. They are getting very rare now, I have 1 spare set of barrels left and a set of new pistons.

Regards
Peg.
Yes if you’ve got one running now, that’s very different from buying one new back then.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Plugs :) nothing wrong with a good conspiracy theory, the info that plug insulation has changed is interesting but I can't find any other sources to verify.
Thanks for the plug info Stuart, my original mistake was to fit the B8ES instead of the proper B6ES.
Still the B8ES would start the bike ok when new and do about 50 miles then...zero so the coating info makes some sense ? Otherwise why would they run from new but not after 50 miles yet looking brand new. I thought the plug heat range meant nothing until the engine was around operating temp but certainly fitting the correct hotter plug B6ES made an instant difference and that was in a cold engine that would only flood with the B8ES.
I have to blame something for my stupidity and this fact/theory helps :)
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Didn't realise the Chinese were also faking NGK plugs.
My partner is a Chinese lady, better check her to make sure she is a genuine communist and not a fake :)
 

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Didn't realise the Chinese were also faking NGK plugs.
My partner is a Chinese lady, better check her to make sure she is a genuine communist and not a fake <img src="http://www.triumphrat.net/images/smilies/smile.gif" border="0" alt="" title="Smile" class="inlineimg" />
So long as the lady part of it is real, the rest won’t matter.
 

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Didn't realise the Chinese were also faking NGK plugs.
Yep. Been there... Bought a set of brand new NGK plugs for a Triumph TR3 (car, not bike 🙂 see attached).

I had just finished rebuilding the engine as part of a long-term basket-case restoration project. After installing the rebuilt engine and box into the newly painted shell, complete with all new wiring loom and fuel system, I was keen to get her running, even though she was just a chassis/shell on stands so could go nowhere (you know how it is...).

However, no matter what I tried she would occasionally splitter but not start. As everything was new or refurbed I had a LOT to check. It took 2 weekends to eventually find that one plug was ok (No1 cylinder, which was the only one I initially tested), one was sporadically firing and two plugs were DOA. I had bought them from an eBay seller with lots of 100% feedback but they were fakes. Really good fakes to look at and I could only see the differences when side by side with plugs bought from a motor factor.

I have had too many bad vehicle parts and technology experiences on eBay and Amazon Marketplace, both are flooded with Chinese fakes. All I use eBay for now is used original parts and I never buy from Amazon Marketplace. New parts come from reputable dealers. This doesn't guarantee no fakes (I had an "Apple" Macbook charger fry a £1800 laptop and turned out to be a fake. That came from a high street shop!)

It'sa jungle out there....
Ian
 

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